An update from the 91st Winter Session

This 91st Session of YPM is now well under way. Debate has been lively as ever, with seldom a dull moment during deliberations on the six acts presented thus far. As we reach the halfway point of Winter Session, we now pause our debate as we do every year, to honour our distinguished alumni and former MLAs at YPMs annual Bear Pit and reception.

The Bear Pit is an opportunity for current members of the session to ask former MLAs – the ‘bears’ – questions on any topic that interests them. This year’s Bears are Ms. Diane McGifford, Mr. Rey Pagtakhan, and Mr. Harold Taylor.  In addition it is an opportunity to recognize truly remarkable members who have worked tirelessly for the organization. This year, Alyssa Morrison and Darcy Vermuelen will be appointed to YPMs Senate in recognition for their work on behalf of the organization. We congratulate them on this achievement, and know that our “Momma Bear” and 90th Speaker will be wonderful additions to the Senate.

Alumni and friends are invited to join us. Proceedings begin at 6:30pm with a reception to be held directly following the Bear Pit in the rotunda. We at the 91st Session are very excited to see and meet all of you.

A Speaker’s Night true to its name!

This year’s Speaker’s Night, which took place on June 7th, 2012 was one to remember.  True to its name, five “Speakers” were in attendance for YPM’s 5th Annual Speaker’s Night: Former House of Commons Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie, Former House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, Speaker of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly Daryl Reid, YPM Deputy Speaker Brent Hardy and YPM Speaker Darren Haber.

The night featured a keynote address by former Canadian MP and Manitoba MLA Bill Blaikie, also a YPM alumnus and our current Honourary President. YPM also had the tremendous honour of hearing from Former House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, the longest-serving speaker in Canadian House of Commons history. We were also honoured to have numerous Manitoba MLAs in attendance to support the organization and its mission.

The Youth Parliament of Manitoba Executive would like to thank the alumni, members, parents, MLAs, dignitaries, friends and supporters who came out and made Speaker’s Night a success. We would also like to thank YPM alumni Michael Urban (79th to 85th), Dana Gregoire (79th to 86th), Sachin Kumar (81st to 83rd) José Castillo Pilcol (84th), Jennifer Pawluk (82nd to 89th) and others who donated to the evening despite not being able to attend.

A full collection of photos from the event can be found on our Speaker’s Night page, and on our Facebook page.

YPM Website Renewal

A major update to Youth Parliament of Manitoba’s website is long overdue.  Plans have been in the works for a few years but for a variety of reasons the major changes we wanted to implement had to be put on the shelf.

A few months ago, Youth Parliament of Manitoba launched a blog titled “The Youth Parliamentarian” at this address.  Using WordPress, we were able to easily implement a new, compelling, and interactive way of sharing content on the web for all to see.  With the experience creating the blog fresh in our memory we have decided that now is a perfect time to move forward with a major update to our website.

Over the next weeks and months, we will be transferring content over from our old website (currently at to this website (  You should notice that a number of pages have already been added.  Once the content is completely transferred, we will archive our old website and migrate this website over to our main url (  The blog will then simply be one of the many page on our website, and a perfect way of staying up-to-date on all YPM-related news.

We look forward to feedback from the YPM community once this transition is completed.

Speaker’s Night, a chance to reconnect

The goal of Speaker’s Night is to commemorate the history and stories of YPM as well as celebrate the achievements of our alumni.  Most importantly, the goal of the evening is to bring past members together so that they can reconnect.  YPM is so remarkable in large part because of the friendships that are forged between the remarkable young people who become actively involved in the organization.

With the 4th annual Speaker’s Night only one short week away, I want to urge every single member of the broad YPM community to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to reconnect with old friends while celebrating the organization that has brought us all together.  Call up some old YPM friends and ask them if they’re going to Speaker’s Night, it’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect!

7th annual Bear Pit a roaring success

The Youth Parliament of Manitoba continued its 89th Winter Session today, but the most exciting part of the day came when our youth parliamentarians had the opportunity to participate in the Bear Pit and Reception with former members of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly.

Besides current session members, and family, friends and alumni of YPM, former MLAs and Speaker George Hickes attended the evening event. Such guests included Reg Alcock, Clif Evans, Marty Dolin, Harry Schellenberg, Myrna Phillips, Al Mackling, Howard Pawley, Jack Reimer, Reg Alcock and Darren Praznik.

The evening began with a welcome from the Co-Ministers of Alumni Affairs, and the announcement of the annual MLA Essay Contest worth $500. Harry Schellenberg stated that the intent of the essay contest is “to explore and promote the world of politics.”

The next item on the evening’s agenda were the YPM Senate elects, which saw the appointment of three YPM alumni to the senate . The new senators include Paul Taylor (79th – 83rd sessions), Tynne Petrowski (82nd – 86th sessions), and Amy Dhillon (80th – 88th sessions). The appointment of YPM senators is based on their history of longterm commitment to the organization.

Another award that was presented at today’s Bear Pit was the Educator Appreciation Award. This year’s presentation was made by House Leader Alyssa Morrison and was presented to Ed Dow, a history teacher from Stonewall Collegiate in Stonewall, Manitoba. Mr. Dow’s longtime support and recruitment of his history students for YPM made him an excellent recipient for this year’s award. Unfortunately he could not be there to accept the award himself but sent his regards.

The final presentation of the evening was the Alumni Achievement Award. This presentation was made by YPM Speaker Jennifer Pawluk, and this year’s recipient was Darren Praznik (54th – 62nd sessions). Mr. Praznik was recognized for his achievements both in YPM and in his own personal political career as a Manitoba MLA.

Finally, the long-awaited “Q and A” portion of this year’s Bear Pit began; as Reg Alcock, Darren Praznik and Howard Pawley were questioned on a range of topics such as northern Manitoban reserves, voter apathy and mandatory voting, their personal and public lives, and what they felt was their greatest achievements.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from this year’s Bear Pit.

On the public life of a politician:

“If you’re interested in public life, get a mentor.” –  Darren Praznik

On bettering society:

“We will marshall an enthusiasm, an enthusiasm leading us towards a better world.” – Howard Pawley

On obtaining political aspirations:

“You don’t ask for power, you go get it.” – Reg Alcock

On creating positive change:

“We must initiate strong activist action.” – Howard Pawley

On education:

“Education is the greatest raiser of people…. It is with education that we raise our lives.” – Darren Praznik

On our collective Canadian future:

“You cannot build a country and move it forward if you have many grievances” – Darren Praznik

On the hierarchy of life:

“Within systems where there are people with higher positions; it’s not because they are brighter… it’s because they are able to see more.” – Reg Alcock

Overall, the Ministry of Alumni Affairs can call this Bear Pit and reception a great success. After the Q and A was over, the members mingled with AFMMLA members over dainties and coffee. It was truly inspirational to see the leaders of the past and the leaders of the future engaging in genuine discussion and debate.

Please see the photo gallery for some more photos from the Bear Pit and reception.

Tomorrow shall mark the second-last full day of session and another jam-packed schedule. Stay tuned!

Welcome to The Youth Parliamentarian

We decided to create The Youth Parliamentarian to bring the extended Youth Parliament of Manitoba (YPM) community together in a forum that encourages ongoing engagement and interaction. By using social media, we can extend our network across cyberspace; allowing for more regular updates about the goings-on of YPM. Many of our former members now live across Canada and beyond. It is our hope that we can stay in touch year-round outside of sessions or Speaker’s Night.

Whether you are an alum, a supporter or a first-year backbencher, YPM has impacted each of our lives in some way. This blog is a celebration of that impact. Do you want to know what’s happening during our debates? Maybe you wonder who is being honoured with our various recognitions? Perhaps you merely wish to stay informed when events are happening or someone in our community does something remarkable?

Our posts will include a mix of event and community features; from the latest announcements and stories to historical perspectives. Do you have something you’d like to share or see? Contact us through our website at and we’ll chase that lede. Thank you for your continued interest in Youth Parliament of Manitoba.